Gospel: Mt 5:1-12a
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. He sat down and his disciples gathered around him. Then he spoke and began to teach them:
Fortunate are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Fortunate are those who mourn; they shall be comforted.
Fortunate are the gentle; they shall possess the land.
Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Fortunate are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.
Fortunate are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God.
Fortunate are those who work for peace; they shall be called children of God.
Fortunate are those who are persecuted for the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Fortunate are you, when people insult you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil against you because you are my followers. Be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God. For that is how this people persecuted the prophets who lived before you.
Today we are celebrating all the saints in Heaven, the vast number of whom have never been canonized and never will be. Since we can celebrate the canonized ones on their respective feast days, let us concentrate on the rest.
This group comprises a lot of simple people we knew (from our 2nd grade teacher to the old man who repaired our shoes when we were kids), people who were never conspicuous in any way, but who spent their lives loving and serving people. It also comprises our ancestors, to whom we owe the privilege of having been born. It comprises also of Christians from far-off lands and from every century of the past from a 5th century Greek fisherman to a 17th-century Bolivian laundry woman.
However, these holy Christians form but a small minority among the Elect. Yes, believe it or not, the great majority of saints professed Hinduism or Buddhism or Confucianism or animism during their lifetime, but they loved their neighbor selflessly, and this is all that God required of them.
Lastly, there is a fair number of sincere agnostics and atheists among God’s saints—people who loved others with all their hearts—and who are still flabbergasted to find out that there is a God and a Heaven after all…